County Post looks back on 2015
Part 2 of year’s top stories
By Robert Cloud
A new city hall in Weyauwega, expansion at Gusmer Enterprises and Bethany Home in Waupaca, a statue in a Manawa park and closure in a three-year-old OWI homicide case were among the top stories in the second half of 2015.
Following is the second part in a two-part series reviewing the local news in 2015.
Work began on Weyauwega’s $2.6 million building project. Scheduled to be completed in May 2016, the completed project will result in a two-story building on three lots in downtown Weyauwega. While construction is underway at city hall, municipal offices are temporarily located at 123 E. Main St.
Involved in a pedestrian traffic fatality two years earlier, Kristin Carlson, 43, Waupaca. was charged with homicide by negligent use of a vehicle. Investigators suspect she was texting on her cell phone when her vehicle struck 81-year-old Fred Lick on County Trunk Q in Dayton.
At its monthly meeting, the Waupaca County Board voted down a resolution that would have repealed an ordinance that prohibits the use of cellphones while driving. Three months later, county supervisors voted in favor of repealing the ordinance while also voting for a resolution supporting a statewide ban on cellphone use while driving.
County Highway Commissioner Dean Steingraber spoke to the county board about dwindling state funds for road maintenance. He recommended that the vehicle registration fee be raised by $25. County supervisors defeated a resolution to raise the fee at their September meeting.
Gusmer Enterprises in Waupaca began construction of a 42,000-square-foot addition to house manufacturing, lab, office and warehouse space.
Heather Schmidt, 40, New London, entered a plea of no contest to a felony charge of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. On July 19, 2012, she killed Iola teenager Dylan Thorne in a drunken driving crash on County Trunk E in the town of St. Lawrence. In September, she was placed on 10 years of probation. As a condition of probation, Judge Raymond Huber ordered Schmidt to serve 11 months in jail with work release privileges and four days each year for 10 years without release – Thorne’s birthday, July 19, Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.
Presto Products announced it would expand its operations into Waupaca with the purchase of the former Affinia Brake Parts building on the city’s east side.
Manawa Police Cheif David Walker announced his plans to retire on Sept. 19. He had led the police force in Manawa since Jan. 1, 2009.
Elizabeth Clumpner, 35, Waupaca, was charged with first-degree reckless injury and hit-and-run causing great bodily harm. Investigators said she was texting a friend about obtaining drugs shortly before hitting a pedestrian. She is scheduled for a jury trial in April 2016.
The Waupaca Common Council appointed Justin Berrens as the city’s new public works director.
Elementary school teacher Scott Van Ess became the new dean of students at Waupaca High School.
Manawa Mayor John Smith told the Manawa Chamber of Commerce that all structures other than the bandstand – including the Remington statue – must be removed from Triangle Park within 30 days. The grandchildren of Art Lindsay, who donated land for the park to Manawa in 1947, had protested plans to place a digital sign in the park.
Smith later reported finding a 1980 quit claim that released the city from all conditions in the agreement between the Lindsay family and the city. In November, the council voted to table further discussion of the statue until 2016.
The Central County Airport in Ogdensberg was renamed Paul Johns Field in honor of an 102-year-old Iola pilot who began flying when he was 15.
After three years of conflict, the Little Hope Lake District was dissolved by court order. Judge Raymond Huber found that the lake district was invalid and void from the beginning.
Bethany Home broke ground on a $21 million project that will include a three-story skilled nursing and rehabilitation center on Berlin Street with 18 private rooms per floor.
A restaurant’s plan to create additional, parking space drew a crowd of Chain O’ Lakes residents to Farmington Town Hall. Jeff Maiman, owner of the Wheelhouse Restaurant, purchased a 4-acre parcel about one-quarter mile from his business in order to provide off-site parking for his 60 employees. Opponents of the plan argued that zoning ordinances do not permit a commercial parking lot in a residential area.
The music of Johann Sebastian Bach was performed in churches and a brewery as part of a four-day festival presented by the Waupaca Community Arts Board.
For the second time, the city of Waupaca’s Board of Zoning Appeals approved a variance for a wheelchair ramp at Church of Christ. The first vote took place on July 13. However, the Waupaca County District Attorney’s office informed the city that it violated the state’s open meeting law when it discussed the issue in closed session.
During his State of the School Address, Waupaca District Administrator Dave Poeschl announced his plans to retire at the end of the 2015-16 academic year. Poeschl became the superintendent in July 1992.
The American Red Cross closed its office in Waupaca.
A Scandinavia man who sued the county after a deputy shot him in 2007 was accused of threatening the deputy and his family. Jerome Weinmann, 56, was charged with threatening a witness, threatening family members of a witness, felony stalking, felony intimidation and possession of a firearm.
According to the criminal complaint, Weinmann pulled into Deputy Patrick McClone’s driveway on a dead-end road. A witness told investigators he thought Weinmann had a gun, but none was found when Weinmann’s vehicle was searched immediately after the incident. A federal court dismissed Weinmann’s suit against the county, but not his suit against McClone.
Waupaca County raised its property tax rate by 16 cents, the city of Waupaca dropped its rate by 7 cents, and the Waupaca School District raised its rate by 47 cents.
Highway Commissioner Dean Steingraber announced his plans to leave his post in Waupaca County and take a similar position in Outagamie County. After more than 16 years here, Steingraber’s last day in Waupaca County was Dec. 18.
A 15-year-old pregnant mare was sexually assaulted in rural New London some time either late Sunday night or early Sunday morning, Nov. 28-29. The mare and her foal later died. The incident is still under investigation and no charges have been filed.
Manawa selected James Gorman, a detective sergeant with the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office, as its new police chief. He plans to take the helm on Jan. 1, 2016.
The Weyauwega-Fremont School District announced plans to open a convenient care clinic at the ThedaCare’s Weyauwega medical clinic.
Waupaca County Sheriff Brad Hardel presented a Citizen Life Saving award to Sarah Binder, a new London woman who rescued an infant after a pickup truck struck an Amish buggy in the town of Larrabee.
The parents of an alleged child killer were themselves charged. Darlene and David “Ted” Bush face felony charges of harboring a felon. Their son, Jon Brush, was charged with first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree reckless endangerment, felony child abuse, possession and distribution of meth following the death of a 3-year-old boy. According to police, he had been living in his parents’ basement while there were active warrants for his arrest.
The city of Waupaca began discussion of a proposed ordinance that would ban smoking in city parks.